Pursuing Excellence: The Logistics Industry and Air Travel

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October 26, 2013

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Kenya Airways, one of our country’s air travel pioneers AKA the national carrier has announced the expansion of their fleet with the acquisition of a brand new aircraft, the Boeing 777-300ER. Built to accommodate up to 400 passengers and about 20 metric tons of cargo, this behemoth comes as a welcome breath of fresh air to the aviation industry in Kenya, as relates to those of us involved in logistics.

Destined to be plying the Chinese route non-stop to Guangzhou, this behemoth is set to cause pleasant ripples in the supply chain management game. With large capacity for transporting people, read tourists, into Kenya without the need for multiple connecting flights the new Boeing craft passively nourishes income generating endeavors, such as those based on foreign tourists. Admirably as it may be, this is but one of the different ways that aviation affects us in logistics, for the better.

Guangzhou Baiyun Airport Photo Credit: The Nan Fang

Guangzhou Baiyun Airport
Photo Credit: The Nan Fang

The first and key point in favor of freighting by air is speed. Moving cargo by air is the fastest possible way to get goods from point A to point B as the industry currently stands. This speed is useful for delivery of perishable goods with limited shelf lives that require reduced travel times, such as flowers for export or fresh foodstuff.

Freighting via aircraft is also convenient in general supply chain management planning, where faster and more efficient movement of goods will always be positive for business. An exporter or importer able to deliver their cargo as needed within 24 hours as opposed to perhaps a week for rail-freighted goods will have a definite advantage, being able to handle shipments with higher frequency, leading to higher profits.

Some cargo in the industry is required to be shipped urgently, within time periods that cannot be accommodated by road or rail transport. For such rushed orders, aerial freighting remains the only option.  Situations like these can range from run of the mill urgent requests from customers to more life and death situations, such as the transportation of donor organs across cities as needed.

Air travel also provides convenience as facilitated by logistics industry players. Most freighting companies will have provisions for clients to track the progress of their shipments, making customers active participants in the freighting process. This convenience allows customers therefore to structure their schedules as needed, in terms of being available to receive the package, or organizing the time for its intended use based on when the item is meant to arrive.

Freighting by air also brings about flexibility in the industry, in terms of providing a high speed alternative to jump start the supply chain management process, that can be employed for a solitary use of needed. Players in the logistics industry who usually rely on road or rail transport can turn to air transport for rescue in cases of extraordinary orders, such as excessively large items or cargo with unusual volume or weight. In such situations, planes can be chartered for a one off transaction with minimal commitment on the side of the logistics player making shipments, while accomplishing immediate results.

Transportation of cargo by air also serves to enrich multi-modal transport by providing freighting in situations where other modes of transport fall short. This can include getting goods ferried by sea faring ships from their origin, then by road to a given hangar, then by air to the remote area with little road network where the cargo is needed. Such is the case for vaccines or medical supplies to rural areas in Africa.

With the only downside to freighting by air being prohibitive costs involved, we are happy to note the progress of our nation’s aviation sector with the acquisition of the new craft, and congratulate Kenya Airways for always working to keep up with industry standards and technology. What have you done for your economic sector this week?


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